Pisa | Travel Guide
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Update October 4:
Now the traffic light list is gone, if you're fully-vaccinated you won't need a pre-departure test to come back to the UK, just a day 2 PCR test and the UK government's Passenger Locator Form. If you're not fully-vaccinated the old amber list rules apply - pre-departure test then 10 days' self-isolation with tests on days 2 and 8.
Children under 18 won't need to self-isolate but will still need to take the precautionary tests. Those aged 5-10 only need to take the day 2 test and those under 4 are exempt from any testing or self-isolation.
Italy asks for a negative antigen or molecular swab test no more than 48 hours before arrival.
When you're there:
Most of Italy's Covid restrictions have now eased. There is no longer a curfew and there are no "orange" or "red" regions, though some regional restrictions remain. You'll need to make sure you follow the rules of the region you're visiting. Check the government's travel advice for more details.
Pisa Travel Guide
Welcome to our Pisa Travel Guide! We're here to help you travel better in this historic, iconic city.
Once a powerful maritime city state, Pisa is a small town packed full of culture, with a long and interesting history. Although many will know it for its world famous Leaning Tower, there's so much more to see and do in Pisa than this one popular landmark. With friendly locals, great food and classic architecture, it's one of our favourite places to visit in Italy. It's also 152 miles from Venice and 42 miles from Florence, which we've also been to - check out our Venice and Florence travel guides.
If your time in Pisa is brief it's easy to miss out and we think it helps to get the lowdown on some of the city's hidden secrets like where to find the best pizza in Pisa and how to navigate the Square of Miracles!
So grab your camera and phrasebook, and come with us on a tour of history, culture, amazing architecture and Pisan charm!
What to expect from our Florence travel guide:
How to get to Pisa
We think the best way to travel to Pisa from the UK is by plane. Pisa airport is the main gateway into Tuscany, receiving almost 5 million passengers every year. Flights from London to Pisa take around 2 hours, and once you get there it's a short journey to the city centre, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the city.
While you're at it, if you book yourself an airport lounge before you fly you can squeeze in a last-minute flick through your Italian phrasebook, while indulging in the peace and quiet with a complimentary drink in hand. Magnifico!
How to get to the city from Pisa Airport
Here are some of your options to get to Pisa from the Airport:
The Pisa Mover shuttle picks you up from the airport and costs €2.70 each way. It's good value and only takes 5 minutes to reach Pisa Centrale so it's definitely our pick for the best way to get into the city.
If you want to travel in private luxury you can also get to Pisa by taxi. Costing €10 (with an additional €2.55 charge on Sundays and bank holidays), it's the quickest way to get to the city. What's more, you can get dropped off with your bags at your hotel so it's nice and convenient if you're willing to splash out a little more!
Since we visited Pisa, the city have stopped running the LAM Rossa service from the airport, replacing it with the Pisa Mover line. You can still get to Pisa Centrale if you're willing to walk to the nearest bus stop on the LAM Verde route, but it's not as practical as the other ways of getting to Pisa, especially if you're carrying luggage.
Alternatively, you could book an airport transfer from the airport to where you're staying. You'll have peace of mind knowing your transport is booked and sorted before you even step on the plane.
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Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.
The best ways to get around the city
Once you've arrived in Pisa, dropped your bags off and perhaps grabbed a coffee, it's time to start exploring the historic city.
Pisa is a small city, and we think one that's best enjoyed on foot. You'll find that it's usually quicker and easier this way - a walk from Pisa Centrale to the Leaning Tower shouldn't take longer than 25 minutes.
Take the time to really enjoy the city. When we visited we walked as much of the city as possible and got a much better insight into all the things to experience in Pisa.
The bus service in Pisa uses three main lines - red, green and blue. The red line (LAM Rossa) is the one that takes you to the Leaning Tower. Tickets are available in tobacco shops, the station and the airport - just make sure to you buy your ticket before you travel and then validate as you board. After 9pm the buses switch to a reduced night service until midnight - something toremember if you want to use the bus on a night out.
Bus ticket prices in Pisa:
- 70 minutes - €1.20
- 120 minutes - €1.60
- 240 minutes - €1.90
Driving in Pisa is similar to other popular Italian cities - it has a limited traffic zone called the ZTL. If you drive an unlicensed vehicle in this zone you'll have to pay a fine between €60 and €100 each time you pass a traffic camera. You can also get multiple fines for driving along the same street so it's best to stay out of it!
There are a couple of free car parks and several paid car parks outside the ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato). The paid car parks should be no more than €20 a day and you can usually keep your car there overnight. We think hiring a car is the best option for driving in Europe so you can leave your car at home and take the stress out of driving abroad.
Overall we think driving can be pretty nightmarish in most European cities and public transport is affordable. Do the environment a favour, save yourself a few euros for gelato and walk as much as you can.
Art and culture in Pisa
Pisa has a wealth of culture and history, and that isn't limited to its famous Leaning Tower! To help you get started, here are some of our favourite places to enjoy art and culture in Pisa:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
We couldn't start anywhere else, could we? The Leaning Tower of Pisa is without question the city's most famous landmark - no trip to the city is complete without visiting the tower.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa's characteristic lean is caused by a combination of its small foundations and the soft soil on which it was built. The lean started to appear during construction in the 12th century and gradually increased in the following centuries.
You can now go into the tower and when buying tickets you'll be given a time slot to enter which can be up to 3 hours after purchase. To avoid the long wait, we recommend booking your tickets in advance.
Only 40 people are allowed inside at any one time, and children under 8 are not permitted at all - something to bear in mind if you're travelling with younger children. No bags at all are allowed in the tower either, but you can take a camera providing you leave its bag in the free security deposit.
You'll have 35 minutes inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa after entering. Opening times are varied, so take a look on the official website.
The Square of Miracles
While the Leaning Tower of Pisa dominates the tourist scene, there are plenty of other interesting buildings and things to do in Pisa too. The Tower is in an area called the Square of Miracles, which also houses Italy's largest baptistery, a magnificent cathedral and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Locals say it's one of the most beautiful urban areas in the world.
If you happen to be visiting on the 16th June one of the best things to do in Pisa is attend the Luminara Festival. Celebrating the patron saint of Pisa, San Ranieri, this festival of light sees Pisa illuminated with tens of thousands of candles, with the celebrations culminating in a dazzling firework display over the river Arno. If you're looking to book a getaway to Pisa in the summer, we think it's worth trying to be a part of this unique experience.
Other things to do in Pisa
While you're in Pisa, it's also worth visiting the Camposanto Cemetery located near the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The mausoleum houses many Roman sculptures and remarkable frescos, the most famous of which being Buffalmacco's The Triumph of Death.
Be sure to also try and find the Tuttomondo mural on the wall of St. Antonio church by American pop artist Keith Haring. The vibrant, multi-character piece has been a staple of Pisan culture for nearly 30 years.
Should I book a tour through Pisa?
We recommend booking a tour with Pedicab Pisa and asking for Roberto to get an expert, insider view on all of Pisa's hidden treasures. Local knowledge is invaluable when visiting somewhere new, so dive in, book a tour and experience Pisa like a pro. Roberto works solely for donations, so make sure you give generously as his insight is definitely worth it.
Where to eat in Pisa
There are plenty of amazing restaurants and eateries throughout Pisa, catering for all tastes and dietary requirements. Here are a few of our favourites:
The best pizza in Pisa
Trattoria Pizzeria Il Montino in the city centre, was the first pizzeria in Pisa and opened in the 19th century. It's lasted so long with good reason, as 'Il Montino' serves the best pizza in the city - we recommend trying their delicious calzones.
The best gelato in Pisa
No Italian holiday is complete without sampling some of the country's amazing gelato! We found the best ice cream in Pisa at La Bottega del Gelato. No matter what your favourite flavour is you'll be well catered for with friendly staff and mouthwatering frozen delights.
The best sandwiches in Pisa
With all the things to do in Pisa sometimes you just don't have time to sit down for a meal. We stumbled upon Il Crudo Panineria and were really impressed by their huge selection of delicious paninis, which were perfect for on-the-go.
Do you need to be able to speak Italian to enjoy Pisa?
Most restaurants and tourist attractions in Pisa spoke English, so you don't need to become fluent in Italian overnight. But we do think it's a good idea to learn a few key phrases and words to help immerse yourself in the culture and authentically enjoy all the things to do in Pisa. It also never hurts to show off your linguistic skills to friends and family!
Some useful phrases
- Hello - Ciao (informal) or Buongiorno (formal - meaning 'Good Morning')
- Goodbye - Ciao (informal) or Arrivederci (formal)
- Yes - Sì
- No - No
- Please - Per favore (formal) Per piacere (informal)
- My name is... - Mi chiamo...
- Thank you - Grazie
- I don't understand - Non ho capito
- Do you speak English? - Parla inglese?
- Where is the nearest metro station? - Dove è la stazione della metropolitana più vicina?
How to make the most of your money
We've established how to get to Pisa, as well as the wealth of things to do and places to eat during your Italian holiday, but to enjoy all of these things it helps to know how many euros to bring.
Here are our tips for making your money go further:
Prices in the city's tourist hotspots can be pretty high compared to the rest of the country. We think it's a good idea to buy tickets to attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa before your holiday, so you can spread the cost and avoid carrying a lot money.
If you're still unsure about carrying cash on you through the busy streets, you could pick up a currency card, like the Caxton FX Card before you leave. You can load it up with your travel money before you set off so it's ready when you need it.
The exchange rate on the card is set there and then at the best rate for you. So you can travel with peace of mind, knowing you're protected from the volatility of the currency market.
Where to get the best deals in Pisa
As with most popular destinations, you can expect to pay a lot more when eating out on the main squares of Pisa. For a real bargain, head out of the tourist areas - Pisa is a university town with roughly 60,000 students, and prices at student bars and restaurants tend to be far lower.
We found that accommodation was much cheaper outside of the centre, and with excellent public transport connecting the city centre, airport and surrounding area, it might be worth venturing further afield. For example, the Hotel Milano is located two minutes from the main train station in Pisa, with affordable rooms starting around €40.
How much did we spend?
Here's a breakdown of some of the costs* of our Pisa trip:
- Return flights - ?60pp
- Pizza - €8
- Pasta - €8.50
- Coffee - €2.50
- 3 bed apartment - ?111 per night
*Rate of exchange correct when we visited in 2017
That's it from our short time in Pisa, and as you can see there's so much to see and do this enchanting city than just it's Leaning Tower. Make sure you spend the time to explore it properly - you won't regret it. Arrivederci Pisa!
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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